Conveyors are needed in a multitude of industries these days, but they can’t necessarily be the exact same conveyors. Due to health standards, the food industry runs into very strict rules for product handling. These standards are strictest in direct contact areas where the product is actually exposed to the conveyor.
Selecting the right conveyor can be a tough thing if you don’t know what to look for. Something that has caused clients of ours trouble in the past is simply moving an old conveyor to a new process that it isn’t rated for.
Sometimes, aluminum conveyors are moved to washdown zones or food handling areas. This is fairly dangerous because aluminum isn’t resistant to rust and corrosion from cleaning processes like stainless steel would be. Depending on the product, you could run into issues as well. In a plant producing spices, the spices could actually start to eat away at a conveyor made of aluminum.
Even using stainless steel doesn’t automatically ensure that you have a food grade conveyor. There are specific construction methods that have to go into a conveyor to avoid buildup of bacteria that can make its way onto food.
Having stainless steel protects the conveyor from environmental damage, but things like open construction and continuous welds ultimately protect the food from the environment. Even though the conveyor body isn’t in direct contact with the food, microbial contaminants can travel from exposed sites to the belting. You need to build in a way that minimizes open surfaces and prevents water buildup in any given area.
Speaking of direct contact, belting is very important in food grade handling as well. The best solution we have found is plastic modular belting. It is easy to wash and sanitize while still providing grip. Sometimes, inclines are necessary in a plant and plastic belting might turn out to be too slippery to manage. To solve this, it might seem like a good idea to turn to textured belting, but this actually just makes more contamination surfaces. A better idea is to install “cleats” or “flighting” which pushes the product up the incline while preventing backsliding.
Meeting cleaning requirements is a tough thing to do, but the problem is often compounded if you decide to throw the cheapest conveyor option in your plant. Make your decision right the first time by purchasing actual food-grade conveyor.
Check out Stainless Steel Conveyors